Change within me yes, but also a small change in the ingredients I used. I have always embraced the ideal of using whole wheat in my cooking. I have always wanted to use whole wheat in my cooking and baking. But I have not always liked the texture and the flavor. From there it took a strong desire to understand and improve. So I did.
I learned that ground whole wheat flour will begin to change once it is ground into flour. Like all food it will begin to break down, as time goes by. It is the natural order of all living matter and food in particular to go from good, to aging, to spoiled, and move right along to the garbage can. In the garden we call this composting and praise the very process for producing a vital and healthy garden. Yet in the kitchen we call it waste. And we all know, I don't like waste.........
My baking experiences would go something like this.......
I would use whole grain flour from my pantry and get a bitter batch of muffins or bread. So I would check the bag for a freshness date, just in case I had lost track of how old the flour was. But the freshness date was good, so what was going on? I know folks have been cooking and baking for hundreds of years, so did they just get past the bitter taste and eat it anyway? Or did their food taste better and if so, why?
By asking myself that question, I began to learn. And as I learned, I understood the oxidation process in ground flours. I learned that wheat berries will stay fresh for many years, yet ground flour only a few months. But even then the bitter taste will be present, because oxidation starts right away. A thick brown paper bag will keep the ground flour safe during shipping and storage, but nothing prevents oxidation.
Because I am a kitchen gadget gal, I was thrilled to be able to buy a grinder. We started with a $20.00 purchase from a CraigsList ad. It was a Kitchenaid grinder attachment and I started baking whole grain bread. Baking with whole grains was so new to me, I made a lot of mediocre bread. But I was determined to bake with whole grains and eat what I baked.
I was still in the big batch period of my life cooking for family gatherings, so of course I made big batches of bread. Unfortunately it was mediocre bread, and on some days worse. Which meant day after day, of really bad textured toast for breakfast on my way to work. This is a bigger deal that one might think because I love toast. Not just any toast, but crunchy toast that is crisp on the outside, holds just the right amount of butter and has an easy crunch for the chewy enjoyment of eating toast. I will tell you right up straight, perfect toast cannot be made from mediocre bread! Never. Going. To. Happen.
Day after day after day after day. Then one day I cheated and threw out a loaf, I honestly could not take any more!
This may seem drastic to some, but cooking and baking not only feeds my family, it is my hobby. I felt that it was time to take my passion about baking seriously and figure out what it was that I wanted to accomplish, then go ahead and spend the money to make it happen. This was a difficult decision, as I am very frugal by nature. But. I. Proceeded. Anyway.
We ran an ad on CraigsList to sell the Kitchenaid, and by sheer luck a young couple in Eugene Oregon who had experimented growing their own wheat were interested in the mixer for the grinder alone! (grinders are expensive) They were happy to be able to grind their wheat for a very affordable price, we were happy to recoup some cash to offset the costs of the new equipment I had purchased. But selling that mixer was the easy part........
Now I had to learn to use the new equipment. This is always a stumbling block for me, as I have this crazy idea that I will break something new and completely ruin it. For the first time, I was immediately comfortable with the new equipment. I went to the Wonder Mill website and watched the informational video showing how to use the grinder. And from there, it was easy, and I just got busy cooking!
Instead I am turning out moist, delicious muffins that don't require butter, but they taste that much better with a little pat, spread over them. I want to make a pie next with a whole grain crust. And my mother's favorite fresh apple cake. And then I think I am ready to make a single loaf of perfect whole grain bread. You know the kind I am talking about, it makes the best toast in the world!
Thanks for listening.
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